Parental consent needed for vaccination: Turkey's top court
ISTANBULTurkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that parental consent is necessary for the vaccination of babies and children, handing down a contrasting ruling to the country’s Supreme Court of Appeals.
The Constitutional Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to vaccinate children or babies without the consent of parents, with the court’s justices ruling that mandatory vaccinations in spite of parental opposition could only be done following relevant legal amendments.
The court cited Article 13 and Article 17 of the constitution in its ruling. Article 17 states that “everyone has the right to life and the right to protect and improve their corporal and spiritual existence.”
“The corporal integrity of the individual shall not be violated except under medical necessity and in cases prescribed by law and shall not be subjected to scientific or medical experiments without their consent,” the article states.
In a June 22 ruling, the Supreme Court of Appeals’ 2nd Civil Chamber said parental permission was not necessary for certain types of vaccines which were in a child’s “best interest” to receive.
The Supreme Court of Appeals also gave an exemplary ruling on May 4, in which it said parental permission did not need to be sought for significant vaccines, recalling articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Turkish Civil Code which highlights the best interests of a child.
“It is seen that the mentioned vaccine is among the ones which is necessary for protecting the child from diseases in the future and protecting the health of the society as is mentioned in the Health Ministry’s ‘broadened immunity program’ calendar. A legal result cannot be derived in cases when the legal representatives of the child – without any reasonable excuse – do not permit the vaccination despite being informed about [its necessity], conflicting [with] the child’s best interest,” said the top court’s ruling.
“In other words, the permission is not needed if the decision of the mother and father clearly conflicts with the child’s best interest,” said the ruling, canceling a local court decision.
The ruling came after a case in which the parents of a 1-year-old baby refused all vaccinations for their child in the Aegean province of Uşak in 2013.
The Health Ministry says immunization through vaccination is “the best medical care in society to prevent disease and deaths.” It maintains that vaccination has social and personal benefits, adding that the program has eradicated epidemics like smallpox, saving many lives.
“Due to its success, many are aware of the devastating effects of measles, polio and whooping cough,” the ministry adds.
The Turkish government requires that a newborn be given 16 different types of vaccination in its first 24 months.